Gloating partisans sure enjoy poking and peppering Bukola Saraki, Senate President, and Yakubu Dogara, Speaker, House of Representatives, over the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) defeat, at the November 17 by-election, into three federal constituencies.
The constituencies: Irepodun/Isin/Ekiti/Oke Ero (Kwara), Toro (Bauchi) and Kankia/Kusada/Ingawa (Katsina).
On the personal lane, you can’t over-stretch these defeats. Neither the Kwara nor the Bauchi defeat came from Saraki’s or Dogara’s direct constituencies. Indeed, the Kwara federal constituency is outside Saraki’s Kwara Central senatorial district.
Yet, as a symbolic pointer, to the possible electoral drubbing to come, particularly for those treacherous 8th National Assembly members, that turned vicious powers and principalities against the people’s core interests, that was immensely satisfying.
To boot: both Saraki and Dogara symbolize those partisan and people treacheries. So, it is sweet they bear the brunt of those defeats, even if vicarious.
Partisan treachery, because both got into the National Assembly via All Progressives Congress (APC) mandates. Saraki’s brazen perfidy against his party, to willy-nilly land the Senate presidency, is known to all; and still riles the conscientious.
From there, both Saraki and Dogara have returned to PDP; but lack the basic personal decency, talk less of honour, to surrender the Senate Presidency and the House Speakership — perks they got on APC’s parliamentary majority. Still, though they grimly sit tight, they stand much more defanged.
Now, to people treachery. Even if principle is rare on the opportunistic partisan plain, how do you justify deliberate anti-people manoeuvres, by parliament whose social contract ought to be pro-people?
For three years, this 8th National Assembly, under the leadership of Saraki and Dogara, chisel away at the national budget. Like noxious rats, they claw at the document, keeping the plums for selves; throwing the chaff the people’s way.
Though their sole business ought to be the greatest happiness of the greatest number, to echo Jeremy Bentham, their target would appear inflicting the greatest sorrow on the greatest number, but seasoning that evil with parliamentary cant.
An economy that dipped into recession and was bereft of savings needed to ramp up its infrastructure, to get moving again.
That was the spirit of the budgets, these past three years, to achieve swift infrastructural rebirth, particularly in roads and rail — the vital transportation sector, so key to re-galvanizing the economy.
But their majestic lawmakers clearly had contrary ideas. If they were not accused of satanic padding of the document for personal lollies — equating deep communal pains — they were manically slicing off huge funds, budgeted for key national road arteries, for the so-called community projects: boreholes, the purchase of Keke Marwa (shuttle tricycles) for constituents and sundry cases of budgetary dissipation.
Yes, constituency projects are no democratic crime. But the rogue motive for these particular dissipations would appear clear.
After subverting the Federal Government’s efforts at a nationwide infrastructure rebirth, budget paring for junk projects becomes sweet poison to turn the local folks against an “incompetent” central Leviathan!
There are even tales: that the Saraki Senate presidency was an alleged Trojan horse to sabotage President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts at vaulting the country from the 2015 trough; and that the scorched earth legislative agenda was a double whammy: discredit and de-market the present order by rogue parliamentary activism; then prepare the ground for a triumphant return to PDP.
A version of that tale even alleged: that Atiku Abubakar, ex-APC but current PDP presidential candidate, allegedly midwifed Saraki’s emergency as willy-nilly Senate president, as a fundamental part of the Saraki-Dogara wreck-and-bale stratagem.
Still, for all you know, all these might just be vicious political yarns, that come with the explosive territory of political intrigue and soulless gaming for power.
But whatever the facts or fiction, the 8th National Assembly’s recourse to diverting funds from crucial projects has achieved at least two spectacular goals: the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, hitherto billed for completion by December 2019, won’t reach that threshold until 2021!
Another casualty is the 2nd Niger Bridge, which completion period is now 48 months. That has prompted a delegation of South East leaders going to plead with the president to help speed up the completion process to 24 months.
The 2nd Niger Bridge is an especial anti-climax. After for eons surviving its ogbanje project status, and finally getting off the ground against all odds, it has to be slowed down by political intrigues, from the same parliament, supposed to be a conclave loyal to the people!
That is the height of this parliament’s people treachery. Because of these clearly unpatriotic intrigues, whatever contribution these transport infrastructures can contribute to Nigeria’s real economic growth is delayed by at least two years. The multiplier effects of that setback are massive.
So, as the people continue to face avoidable economic strangulations, their representatives, both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, continue feeding fat — not to champion the people’s welfare but to push arid intrigues, that further ruin the majority and law-abiding.
Which is why, lest we forget: the coming election season must be payback time.
At the acme of this National Assembly’s anti-people misconduct, when some deluded parliamentarians got smitten by hubris; scorning sponsoring parties and voters, as no more than despicable serfs, this column, on its logo, started an on-running campaign: “Correct the mistake of 2015. Vote out the corrupt legislators”.
Come February 2019, it is time to walk that talk. It is time to reward those loyal parliamentarians, that put their voters’ interests first. But it is also time to maul, with a vengeance, parliamentary reactionaries, that rewarded their parties and voters with concentrated contempt.
That is why it is immensely pleasing that both Saraki and Dogara are feeling the earliest heats, en route to 2019, given the roasting of their party at the November 17 federal by-elections.
Both might have offered the suspect leadership for a parliament that brutally short-changed Nigerians. But also, no member of that gang, bivouacked in the people’s legislative chambers, must escape judgment on Election Day.
Besides, it’s high time Nigerians got over the costly illusion that voting the president is all that matters. This 8th National Assembly has exploded that myth, with its anti-people conduct.
Can you just imagine the progress this country would have made now, had the Saraki-Dogara legislature kept faith with the Buhari executive’s infrastructural vision?
That is why, in 2019, Nigerians must vote both the president and the right set of parliamentarians.
It’s vacation time, after a full year’s toll. On virtual election eve, that looks like abandoning duty. But though the spirit is willing, the body is tired. Thanks readers, for a most active interaction, and see you, by God’s grace, in mid-January 2019. Do have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!